It's been a privilege over the last four months to travel the length and breadth of the country doing signings, readings and tastings to promote Hops and Glory. I've met new people and made new friends, and made many mental notes to blog about some of the fantastic beers, brews and people I've met. I'm embarrassingly late on this and now, finally, have time to do a bit of catching up. My appreciation of the Crown Brewery and Hillsbrough Hotel, Acorn, Thornbridge, Lovibonds in Henley, Nantwich, the fantastic Welsh brewers at Abergavenny, beer and food dinners with Purity and White Shield, and trip to Belgium will all be up in the next week or two. But let's start with the Adur Brewery down in Steyning in Sussex.
This was quite special in a number of ways. Andy Dwelly was on holiday a couple of years ago, reading Three Sheets to the Wind. And when he got to the end, he decided to set up a brewery. I never imagined I might influence someone to do something so drastic!
My Hops & Glory tour coincided with the brewery's first birthday, so I thought the least I could do was go down and help them celebrate.
The brewery itself is right in the heart of the South Downs, in an outbuilding behind a big house down a leafy, quiet, single lane road. You're right out in the country, and this gives the whole place a very mellow, relaxed feel.
Andy makes several beers - I started off with Ropetackle, a 3.4% golden ale that's doing incredibly well in the local community, then Velocity Bitter (4.4%), Black William Stout (5%) and the Trappist-style St Cuthman's Red Wheelbarrow (10.5%). I'm ashamed to say I've lost my tasting notes, but from what I can remember all were very good indeed. I quite like the branding too - each label is based on a local historical figure or event. There are some cool designs, all quite different save for the common identifier hidden somewhere in the picture - a red and white jester's hat.
And Steyning is a lovely village/town. The local bookshop did the best display of my books I've ever seen:
and we got a great attendance and sold lots of copies at the event in the evening. It was one of the best events I've done.
Adur feels like it's still in a start-up phase with the inevitable growing pains. But what struck me is the friendly spirit around the town and the brewery - it feels like an active part of its community, with people popping in to help or just to say hello.
The list of where the beers are stocked is already pretty impressive after such a short time in business. I'm sure we're going to be seeing a lot more of Andy and Adur in the next year or two.